On Tuesday, 26 October 2013, the Economic and Social Rights Unit at the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) organized a workshop titled ‘Patients Struggling against Death in Gaza: The Case of Rheumatoid Arthritis and Leukemia Patients.’ The workshop was held in PCHR’s head office in Gaza City. Specialists representing the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO), a number of rheumatoid arthritis and leukemia patients and representatives of civil society organizations, especially health ones, participated in the workshop.
Dr. Riyad al-Za’noun, Former Minister of Health and Chairman of PCHR’s Board of Directors, opened the workshop, noting that it was organized as part of the cooperation and coordination between PCHR and organizations concerned with local and international health services in the Gaza Strip. Al-Za’noun added that the workshop aimed to discuss the shortage of medicines for rheumatoid arthritis and leukemia patients in the Gaza Strip, noting that Israel’s closure of the Gaza Strip, imposed since mid 2006, and the political division between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are the main obstacles that lead to the shortage of such types of medicine. Patients are at the same time facing difficult economic conditions and cannot afford the prices of medicines which are too high for them. Dr. al-Za’noun stressed for the need to overcome the tragedy of the Palestinian political division, and called for urgent talks and coordination between both Health Ministries in Gaza and the West Bank.
Khalil Shahin, Director of PCHR’s Economic and Social Rights Unit, gave a presentation titled ‘Patients Struggling against Death in Gaza,’ in which he outlined that health conditions of rheumatoid arthritis and leukemia patients in the Gaza Strip have deteriorated in an unprecedented manner due to the shortage of the medicines they need for several consecutive months. Shahin wondered about the reasons that impede access to medicines regularly in the Gaza Strip, which leads to the deterioration of patients’ health conditions. He also wondered about the role of both Ministries of Health in the West Bank and Gaza in providing medicines in a timely manner. Shahin called for uniting efforts of both Ministries to prioritize the interest of patients in the Gaza Strip and provide them with the needed medicine and medical treatment.
Dr. Abdel Nasser Subuh, a representative of WHO, gave a presentation titled ‘WHO’s Role in Providing Rheumatoid Arthritis and Leukemia Patients with Medicines,’ pointing out that access to medicines for rheumatoid arthritis and leukemia patients constitutes a great challenge for the health organizations in the Gaza Strip, and that the Ministry of Health is responsible for providing the Gaza Strip with all medicines and medical supplies, adding that the financial crisis facing the Ministry made it unable to meet the needs of patients in
the Gaza Strip. Subuh added that WHO and international health organizations implemented two projects to buy medicines and medical supplies for rheumatoid arthritis and leukemia patients. Subuh warned of the continuing crisis of shortage of medicines and its impact on patients’ conditions, as any regularity delay in medicine leads to the deterioration of patients’ health conditions and may also lead to death. more